Since the outbreak of the relatively new virus, a British man who was aboard a cruise ship has died from coronavirus in Japan.

The Japanese Ministry of Health said the man was the sixth person to have died on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has been quarantined off the coast of Japan.

Thousands of people across the UK have been tested for coronavirus across the UK since the outbreak began.

The government says a total of 7,690 people have been tested in the UK, of which 7,675 were were confirmed negative and 15 positive, though this has since risen to 19 confirmed cases.

Today, Friday February 28, two further patients in England have tested positive for coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

The virus was passed on in Iran and the patients have been transferred to specialist NHS infection centres at the Royal Free Hospital.

As of February 28, the total number of cases in England is now 17. Following confirmed cases in Northern Ireland and Wales, the total number of UK cases is 19.

These figures now include the four cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, who were taken to Arrowe Park where they tested positive for the disease.

Despite not showing symptoms one of the patients was take to Liverpool Royal, two patients have been sent to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, while the other was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle for treatment.

What is the risk level?

Based on the World Health Organization’s declaration that this is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the UK from low to moderate.

This permits the government to plan for all eventualities. The risk to individuals remains low.

The government says it has been working in close collaboration with international colleagues and the World Health Organization to monitor the situation in China and around the world.

If you have returned from Iran, specific lockdown areas in Northern Italy, "special care zones" in South Korea and Hubei province you should call NHS 111 and stay indoors and avoid contact with other people even if you do not have symptoms.

The UK Chief Medical Officers are advising anyone who has travelled to the UK from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days and is experiencing cough or fever or shortness of breath, to stay indoors and call NHS 111, even if symptoms are mild.

Diamond Princess evacuees arrive in coaches to Arrowe Park Hospital
Diamond Princess evacuees arrive in coaches to Arrowe Park Hospital

If you have returned from Northern Italy, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar since February 19 and develop symptoms, however mild, you should stay indoors at home and avoid contact with other people immediately and call NHS 111.

The government is carrying out enhanced monitoring of direct flights from these areas. Passengers will be told how to report any symptoms they develop during the flight, at the time of arrival, or after leaving the airport.

Typical symptoms

A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world.

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Read More

Top news stories

Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.

Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

Your rights at work

Employees have rights to keep them protected and employers have a duty of care to employees.

Regarding your rights at work, Lindsey Knowles, head of employment law at Kirwans law firm told the ECHO : “It can be extremely difficult for employees who fall under the category of needing to self-isolate but haven’t actually shown any symptoms.

“If they’re not ill, then they don’t have any legal right to statutory sick pay so the employer doesn’t have to pay them.

“However, given the high levels of risk associated with ignoring self-isolation advice, employers would be well-advised to encourage such employees to remain at home and treat the situation as if the employee was actually sick.

So far in the UK, 7,690 people have been tested for the virus and of the 19 to have tested positive

"Alternatively, the employer and employee could arrange for the time off to be taken as holiday leave.

“If it is the employer who is requesting that an employee remain away from work - for example, if they have travelled to Southern Italy - they should be paid as usual.

“Another option could be to allow an employee to work from home which may be a more suitable and flexible solution.

“A failure to come up with a solution that doesn’t result in a loss of pay could lead to the employee ignoring the health warnings and returning to work so that they don’t lose out on their wage.

"As we know, that could not only prove to be a false economy to the employer, but in the worse-case scenario, could result in the spreading of the virus to the workforce and beyond.”

Can employers stop employees from going abroad during the outbreak?

Employers must act reasonably in their dealings and if employees wish to travel to areas where flights are still being run as normal, it will be difficult to justifying imposing a blanket travel ban.

To do so will risk employees becoming secretive about their holiday plans and employers could also face adverse publicity and even claims as set out below.

It is best to express the employer’s concerns and agree a strategy with the employee to minimise risks to them and other employees.

Employees stuck abroad – what should employers do?

If an employee on a work trip is stuck abroad then employers should consider whether employees can continue to work remotely and if so, they should be paid as normal.

If working remotely is not a possibility then employers will need to consider whether to grant leave as: unpaid, sick leave or paid.

This involves considering any contractual rights and policies that may be in place at the place of work.

School closures

Schools hit by coronavirus fears could reportedly be forced to close for two months if the outbreak gets worse.

The warning came from England's chief medical officer who also said that coronavirus could lead to the cancellation of large public events.

Coronavirus has reached 30 countries across the globe since it first broke out in Wuhan, China.

More than 15 schools across the UK have closed to try and contain the outbreak -  though many have since reopened or will be opening in the next few weeks.

England's Chief Medical Officer warned that schools could be forced to close for two months

In Merseyside, a number of school pupils and teachers are in self-quarantine after visiting areas hit by the outbreak.

Woolton Primary School, Woolton, confirmed on Thursday afternoon that a member of staff and two pupils are at home self-isolating after visiting one of the areas affected by coronavirus.

The school said that it was in the process of informing parents and carers of the precautions.

The school also stressed that neither the teacher nor the pupils had returned to school since their visit to the affected area.

The teacher and the pupils involved are voluntarily self-isolating at home in accordance with the guidance issued by Public Health England.

A school spokesperson said: "We can confirm that we have a member of staff and two children who have chosen to self-isolate after returning from holiday in one of the areas affected by coronavirus.

"They have not been in school since they returned and this is a precautionary measure."

Parents' rights - can you keep your children off school?

Some schools have been giving parents advice on whether they should keep their children off due to the coronavirus outbreak.

A worried headteacher from Meols Cop High School in Southport contacted the ECHO after 40 students and six staff members at the school recently returned from a ski trip in the area, which has been affected by the illness.

However, headteacher Ian Parry said the area in northern Italy which students and staff visited did not fall into one of the 12 identified lockdown towns.

Two schools in Cheshire have also made the decision to close as concerns have been raised regarding the virus.

Regarding keeping your kids off school, it depends on the symptoms your child may be presenting.

Symptoms of coronavirus include a cough, a high temperature and shortness of breath - though having these symptoms doesn't mean you necessarily have the virus.

Schools hit by coronavirus fears could reportedly be forced to close for two months if the outbreak gets worse

The NHS doesn't know exactly how the virus is spread due to it being so new, so preventing the spread of the illness is of utmost importance.

The incubation period of COVID-19 is between 2 to 14 days. This means that if a person remains well 14 days after contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, they are unlikely to have been infected.

Updated government advice has said people returning from areas affected by the outbreak are being asked to call NHS 111, stay indoors and avoid contact with others, even if they do not have symptoms.

However, Public Health England has said if children, parents or staff have travelled outside the "risk areas" then there is no need not to carry on normal activities and children should carry on going to school.

On the Public Health England website they state: "Currently there are minimal cases outside the risk areas and therefore the likelihood of an individual coming into contact with a confirmed case is low.

"There is no need to advise any of these pupils, student or staff to avoid normal activities or educational settings unless they have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

"If individuals are aware that they have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 they should contact NHS 111 for further advice."

GP closures

If you are presenting any coronavirus symptoms, it's important you do not go to your local practice.

Call 111 for advice and keep away from others, with self-quarantine being the safest way to potentially control the spread.

There's been multiple GP closures across the UK since the outbreak of the virus.

A GP surgery near Ellesmere Port has had to close suddenly today after a suspected case of coronavirus.

In this Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, photo, a nurse prepares medicines for patients at Jinyintan Hospital designated for new coronavirus infected patients, in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. China reported thousands new virus cases and more deaths in its update Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020 on a disease outbreak that has caused milder illness in most people, an assessment that promoted guarded optimism from global health authorities. (Chinatopix via AP)
A nurse prepares medicines for patients at Jinyintan Hospital in China

The news was broken to patients of the practice on its Facebook page.

Patients told the ECHO they had been turned away at the door when turning up for scheduled appointments this morning.

GP practices in Islington, London; Taunton, Somerset; Bracknell, Berkshire; New Pond Row Surgery in Sussex and a GP in Northamptonshire have closed following the outbreak.

Despite closures, tests for coronavirus are being increased at 100 GP surgeries and eight hospitals across the UK.

The tests will provide an "early warning" if the virus is spreading, Public Health England's Prof Paul Cosford said.

Holidaymakers - what to do if your flights are affected

MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis has issued an urgent warning for summer holidaymakers following the coronavirus outbreak.

The finance guru spoke out on ITV's Good Morning Britain on February 27 as he shared the important advice.

Coronavirus cases have been confirmed in popular destinations such as Italy and Spain.

If you have booked a holiday to one of these countries, you may be in a tricky situation if the Foreign Office issues new advice, says Martin.

Martin urged viewers to make sure they book travel insurance as soon as they book, or if they have an upcoming trip to book now.

He said: "Anyone who has booked a holiday for this year, if you have not got travel insurance.

"If you get the travel insurance and the FCO then says you can't go to a country you're covered.

"If the FCO rules out a country in future and you haven't got travel insurance at that point you're not covered.

"Get your travel insurance now."

Read More

Coronavirus latest

If there is no foreign office warning in place don't cancel your holiday as you will be unlikely to get a refund or claim on insurance.

The FCO is currently advising against all travel to Hubei Province, and against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China.

They are advising against all but essential travel to:

The FCO also recommends tourists and visitors to read the health advice for the following countries before going abroad.

If you have returned from an affected area in the last 14 days, the government advises you to avoid all contact with other people and call 111 to get advice on what to do next.

It's important that you don't visit a GP surgery, hospital or pharmacy.